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Drug Dealer's Attorney Discusses The Fight That Killed Fox Exec

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The lawyer of a convicted drug dealer accused of murdering Fox executive Gavin Smith said today that his client was just defending himself in fight that ended up killing Smith.John Lenzie Creech, 42, who's already serving an eight-year prison term for a drug conviction, is looking at 25 years to life if he's convicted for Smith's murder. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in court today, according to the L.A. Times.

Creech's attorney, Alex Kessel, argued outside the courtroom today that Smith attacked Creech out on the street in Chatsworth and that his client was just trying to protect himself. However, he didn't elaborate much more on how Smith died: "It was total self-defense. It was mutual combat. Unfortunately, one person received an injury … there may be a number of contributors to his death."

Smith, who worked in Calabasas as a regional branch manager for Fox Theaters in Dallas and Oklahoma City, had been missing since May 1, 2012. It wasn't until Oct. 26, 2014 when Smith's remains were found by hikers in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest.

Authorities were tipped off that Creech was involved in the disappearance of Smith, and found Smith's missing car stashed away in Creech's storage unit in May 2013. They also believed Smith had an affair with Creech's wife, Chandrika Creech, when they met at a drug rehab center.

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While Creech originally said he didn't know Smith, his attorney later admitted in court that Creech confronted Smith years ago and asked him to stop seeing his wife. However, Creech had no idea that Smith and his estranged wife were still in contact, his attorney said.

Smith's family released a statement about his murder: "His death has left a huge void in our lives that will never be filled. And have no doubt, the evidence will clearly show this was a cold blooded, premeditated act of murder."

Creech is expected back in court on March 26.